One man fears he'll go blind before he gets surgery while a woman says she's been downgraded from category one to three amid the growing crisis at Portland District Health.
Furore eclipsed a public forum held today by opposition leader Matthew Guy, opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier and member for South West Coast Roma Britnell.
Several members of the community came forward to reveal how they'd been affected by the pause on birthing services and the departure of ophthalmologist Robert Harvey.
Portland mum Jessa Laws, who was forced to give birth on the side of the road while on her way to Warrnambool because her closest hospital was without maternity service, said she wouldn't wish the experience on anyone.
"Thankfully there were no complications ... no tearing or haemorrhaging but it was only luck," she said.
"Driving home past where we'd given birth, the tears started and the shaking.
"It hit home how lucky we were with how dangerous it could have been, a wallaby bouncing out at the wrong time, hitting one of the numerous potholes, it was dangerous and scary and it's not anything I'd wish for any mum to go through.
"I'm lucky I managed to cope OK, there's a lot of women out there who would've had a lot of complications, or would not cope with stress and the post traumatic stress of it as well."
Macarthur couple Linda and Greg Malseed said the lack of specialists meant sight-saving eye surgery was unlikely.
"My husband had lots of issues over the years particularly with his left eye and he eventually went blind in that one," Ms Malseed said.
"In the last 12 months I guess he's had a cataract occurring on his right eye and fortunately he'd been wanting to see Dr Harvey and he was due to have his surgery on 31st of March but it was cancelled ... it was pretty depressing."
In the meantime, Mr Malseed said his sight was deteriorating.
"It means I'm on the waiting list of at least three months before I can have it done, that's at the earliest," he said.
"(My sight is) deteriorating. I could go blind before I get it, I don't know."
Another woman - who did not want to be named - said she was due for major surgery but was downgraded due to a lack of services.
"(They) basically said 'we don't have a general surgeon I'm effectively confident with, we don't have a transfusion service if something goes wrong and we don't have an intensive care unit - I highly recommend you look at going somewhere else'," she said.
"He referred me to Warrnambool, I got a letter from Warrnambool on Friday to basically say 'you're now category three'. I was category one, now I'm three with a 12-month wait."
Many residents wanted to know what the opposition would do to remedy the situation.
Mr Guy said the system needed large-scale reform.
"There's no doubt that there's a crisis in our health service right across our state but here in Portland it is certainly more acute," he said.
"The thing that will fix it is listening to locals, listening to staff, to the board, bringing back birthing services, getting back some of the doctors that have been lost and actually getting this hospital working for the community."
Ms Crozier slammed the situation.
"The government is out of touch, they're out of time - we need solutions," she said.
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